‘Books are our best companions’ and the ideal time to inculcate the rich habit of reading is during your child’s formative years. There are endless choices for kids’ books for every age that have been enjoyed by generations of readers. Adventure stories, mythology, drama, picture storybooks, folktales and fables, funny comedies, graphic novels, fantasy tales, cultural touchstones etc, the options are infinite. These timeless classic children’s books that have stood the test of time, are sure to develop the learning skills in your child, turning them into budding bookworms.
I have always been an avid reader and a great storyteller. With time, I could imbibe this wonderful habit in my children that developed their vocabulary and expanded their world of imagination.
Let’s See How Reading Helps
In a world of gadgets, mobile devices, video games and social media, books are still a vital source of preservation and dissemination of knowledge. They spark your child’s literary skills, accelerating their vocabulary skills and brain functioning. Kids’ books stimulate your child’s emotional development, help them learn new words and their usage, foster imagination and a positive thought process through constant learning. Nowadays, parents have countless options to choose and buy from online stores that have an excellent collection of books. These are sure to enchant your kids and help develop a strong bond between you and your child as you read stories along with them.
Selecting books can be a puzzling task hence, for your ease, I’ve listed the best 15 classic children’s books that will be a valuable addition to your library.
1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
This fantasy childhood classic by Lewis Caroll is a perfect read for children of age group 8-10 years that illustrates the topsy-turvy adventures of Alice. Published in 1865, the book is a pure delight for its creative interpretation of the fantasy world, colourful illustrations, humour, subversive context and a mystical plot that has a powerful impact on the imaginative whimsy of the reader. The novel, considered as one of the most popular fictions, will definitely be cherished by your kid.
2. Gulliver’s Travels
It’s an English Literature masterpiece by Jonathan Swift that describes the adventurous sea voyages and thrilling quests of Gulliver as he ends up in remote regions of the world. Considered a sensational bestseller, the book narrates the protagonist’s unusual experiences, exuberant fantasy and new perspectives of life gained from the expeditions that are sure to enchant the young minds. The book is a must-read for children of age group 9-14 years that will certainly entertain and educate them.
3. Sindbad the Sailor
Another awe-inspiring adventurous story of Sindbad from The Thousand and One Nights describes the seven voyages of the mariner from Baghdad. The story revolves around the sailor’s perilous adventures, seafaring experiences, treasure hunting, encounters with monsters and supernatural powers that keeps the readers hooked on. This beautifully illustrated and captivating kid’s book is a good read for 4-8 years children.
4. Arabian Nights
It’s a collection of Middle Eastern folk stories, originally compiled in Arabic language and later in English that was written and translated by several authors. The folklores are derived from the Arabic, Indian, Persian, Greek and Turkish era and hence regarded as a treasure trove of literary styles. Pious parables, adventure stories, humorous tales and love stories set the perfect backdrop for the fictions. Laden with different genres of writings, the book is a perfect gift for children of age group 7-11 years.
5. Robinson Crusoe
Published in 1917 by Daniel Defoe, the novel depicts the tale of an impulsive man castaway on a desert island after a shipwreck. Recommended for children of 12-15 years, the novel’s visualization techniques, simple narrative style, thrilling twists and turns and adventurous events are sure to have a striking effect on the reader’s minds. The book, considered as one of the best children's books of all time, was so hugely popular, widely published and adapted in movies that the genre Robinsonade was even named after it.
6. Rip Van Winkle
It is a beautiful short story by Washington Irving for 8-12 years of children that is set in the Dutch culture during the pre-Revolutionary War. The story is about time travel where Winkle falls asleep only to wake up 20 years later. This story highlights that change is inevitable and revolves around the drastic social, political and economic change over the twenty years that Winkle tries to adjust to.
7. A Christmas Carol
The novel, written by Charles Dickens, is one of the most popular and poignant tales of all times that children of 8-12 years can enjoy. It’s a Christian allegory about the redemption of a miserly, mean-spirited creditor, Ebenezer Scrooge when he gets a spooky visitation from his former business partner, Jacob Marley on the Christmas night. The story reflects the transformation of Scrooge into a kind and generous man that is certain to have a stirring effect on the reader.
8. The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas, a master of his genre, penned the swashbuckling novel that is set in the 17th and 18th century. The story portrays the encounters of the protagonist D'Artagnan who travels to Paris to become a member of the three Musketeers of the Guard. Its an enthralling French historical fiction of endless adventure, undying love, duelling, intriguing events and glory that all kids above 11 years will assuredly love to read.
9. A Tale of Two Cities
It’s one of the most popular classic children's books by age group 14-18 that is set during the French Revolution. A historical novel by Charles Dickens, the story encompasses the themes of dualism, revolution, political unrest and renaissance. It reflects the metaphorical resurrections of mankind through the character of a French Doctor, Manette who was imprisoned for 18 years on false accusations. The rebirth of the character through the manifestation of love, mercy, self-sacrifice and recognition of the individual’s relationship with humanity has a deep-seated impression on the readers.
10. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Written by the French writer Jules Verne, it is a stepping stone science fiction novel about Professor Aronnax, Captain Nemo and his submarine, Nautilus. The book, regarded as a premier adventure novel, brilliantly describes the underwater marvels, exalted experience of the Atlantis and riveting tale of adventure that the characters undergo. The detailed scientific explanations of submarines and vivid descriptions of the ship camouflaged as a whale, the underwater encounters with gigantic creatures and their incredible journey back from the sea is sure to fascinate children above 10 years.
11. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
One of the best children's books of all times, the novel depicts the adventurous of a young boy, Tom Sawyer. Written by Mark Twain, the novel describes the transition of a young boy into a man, his adventures with his friends and his typical adolescent mischievous nature that appeals to the basic instincts of the young minds. Written in simple language, the stories are delightful to read and well adapted for the age group of 10-14 years.
12. Black Beauty
The story is about a fictional autobiography of a horse of the 19th century, authored by Anna Sewell. It’s one of the bestselling classic children's books ever that traces the life, adventures and the trials and tribulations of Black Beauty. The book was first of its kind that reflects the world through Beauty’s eyes and paved the way for treatment of animals with love, kindness and compassion. The simplistic language, novel writing style and heart-warming events are extremely absorbing to the young readers, especially for kids of 8-12 years.
13. The Jungle Book
Jungle stories have always fascinated the young minds and this marvellous collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling is a sheer pleasure to read. The lifelike jungle characters, an unusual heroic journey of Mowgli-the man-cub raised by a wolf pack, action-packed plot, anthropomorphic dialogues and the arduous quest of defeating Shere Khan renders a spine-chilling effect on the readers that is hard to resist. The storyline has a majestic charm that captures the imagination of the reader, rendering an invigorating effect. It is definitely one of the best children's books of all time for all age groups.
14. The Happy Prince and Other Tales
These fairy tale stories by Oscar Wilde, published in 1988, delves into the varied nuances of life. Though the stories are of the morally didactic genre, they transport the reader into the fantasy world. Its imaginative characters portray emotions of love, self-sacrifice, compassion and explore the vices and virtues instinctual to mankind. Kids of 8-11 years can enjoy the interesting folktales.
15. The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame’s novel, based in the late nineteenth century, replicates the ironic British social structure through the eyes of four anthropomorphized animals. Set in an imaginary world, the novel warms and thrills your heart with its evocative narration and the depiction of creepy events, exciting adventures, climactic encounter and human camaraderie. The novel is deservedly an outstanding classic and a must read for kids of 7-9 years old.
These timeless tomes by stalwart authors that steered their way into our cultural lexicon have thrilled and schooled generations of children. The revolutionary folklores have been abridged and adapted for all age groups that resonate the literary brilliance of the novelists.
Gift your child with these all-time bestseller classic children's books that have reserved their space indefinitely as ground-breaking inclusions to the canon.
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